Photo by Natalie Battaglia of the Daily Law Bulletin
It is offiical — the Cook County Board has voted to re-name the Cook County Criminal Courts Building (commonly referred to as “26th and California” or “26th and Cal”) to “The Honorable George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building.”
From the Law Bulletin’s article:
Raised by Cape Verdean immigrants in Massachusetts, Leighton served in World War II, graduated from Howard University and earned a degree at Harvard Law School.
He came to Chicago 66 years ago at a time when a black man could neither rent a downtown office nor catch a taxi in the Loop.
He eventually founded Moore, Ming and Leighton, which became one of the largest predominantly black law firms in the country. He defended at least 200 criminal charges in bench and jury trials and handled at least 175 appeals in state and federal courts.
Developing a reputation as a civil rights lawyer, Leighton (left) served as general counsel and president of the NAACP’s Chicago office. He represented clients in Illinois and in southern states in cases involving voting rights, integrated schools, fair housing and equal access to jury service.
,,,Leighton served on the trial court for five years; moved to the Illinois Appellate Court for seven years; and sat on the bench in Chicago’s federal court for 11 years.
In 2005, Leighton received the American Bar Association Medal, which is the ABA’s highest honor. Four years later, the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission started an annual award in his honor. And Chicago Lawyer magazine named Leighton its “Person of the Year” last year.